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FOR RELEASE: April 7, 2005
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications
405/271-5601

April is Cancer Control Month

Cancer is the nation’s leading health concern and its second leading cause of death. One of every four deaths in the U.S. is from cancer, and one in every five deaths in Oklahoma is a result of various forms of the disease, according to health officials at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH). In 2004, about 563,700 Americans died of cancer; 7,640 of those were Oklahoma residents.

This year, approximately 1,372,910 Americans will be diagnosed with cancer, with 18,640 of those being Oklahoma residents. One out of two men and one out of three women in the U.S. will develop some type of cancer during their lifetime. Research has found that cancer incidence and death rates vary by cancer site, gender, race, and ethnicity.

“During April we want people to take time to learn about cancer and the risk factors associated with developing cancer so they may begin to make the necessary lifestyle changes as soon as possible,” said State Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Crutcher.

A number of risk factors increase a person's chance of developing cancer. Many types of cancer are related to:

  • use of tobacco in any form
  • an unhealthy diet
  • exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation
  • exposure to chemicals and other substances
  • use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • use of diethylstilbestrol (DES)
  • close relatives with certain types of cancer

“Most cancers are preventable if people adopt healthier lifestyles. Avoiding cigarette smoke and tobacco in any form is the most important action anyone can take to reduce your risk of cancer, especially lung and pancreatic cancers. It is also important to discuss with your health provider the benefits of regular check ups and cancer screening tests,” Crutcher said.

Cancer can cause a variety of symptoms such as:

  • thickening or lump in the breast or other part of the body
  • obvious change in a wart or mole
  • a sore that does not heal
  • nagging cough or hoarseness
  • changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • indigestion or difficulty swallowing
  • unexplained changes in weight
  • unusual bleeding or discharge

“These or other symptoms are not always caused by cancer. They may be caused by infections, benign tumors, or other problems. It is important to see the doctor about any of these symptoms or about other physical changes. Only a doctor can make a diagnosis,” Crutcher emphasized.

For more information about cancer prevention and disease, contact the OSDH Chronic Disease Services at (405) 271-4072 or view the OSDH Web site at: www.health.ok.gov .

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